If your iPad is insured, get it exchanged. If you're near an Apple Store, take it in to see if they can repair it for you? I know you mentioned having it fixed cheaply. Also, you might try checking out YouTube for DIY (Do It Yourself) tutorials in regard to replacing your iPad Antenna.
The iPad's Wi-Fi antennas, like other components, do not last forever and can fail. The component is removable in the event of a failure or if the component is not working properly. Consult an authorized repair service to replace the antenna if you are not experienced in electronics repair or if your iPad is still under warranty. If the tablet is still under warranty, opening the iPad immediately voids its warranty.